Busted: White House 'Misrepresented' Experts' Views to Justify Drilling Moratorium

Meredith Jessup

6/10/2010 11:50:00 PM - Meredith Jessup
Uh oh... Fox News is reporting that the seven experts who advised President Obama on how best to deal with future offshore drilling safety are now saying his administration is purposefully "misrepresenting" their views "to make it appear they supported a six-month drilling moratorium -- something they actually oppose."
The experts, recommended by the National Academy of Engineering, say Interior Secretary Ken Salazar modified their report last month, after they signed it, to include two paragraphs calling for the moratorium on existing drilling and new permits.

Salazar's report to Obama said a panel of seven experts "peer reviewed" his recommendations, which included a six-month moratorium on permits for new wells being drilled using floating rigs and an immediate halt to drilling operations.

"None of us actually reviewed the memorandum as it is in the report," oil expert Ken Arnold told Fox News. "What was in the report at the time it was reviewed was quite a bit different in its impact to what there is now. So we wanted to distance ourselves from that recommendation."
For what it's worth (read: nothing), Salazar reportedly apologized to the experts today, saying, "it was not their decision on the moratorium.  It was my decision and the president's decision to move forward."  In a letter addressed to Salazar, the group of experts explained that their position was that halting offshore drilling is BAD IDEA:
The oil rig explosion occurred while the well was being shut down – a move that is much more dangerous than continuing ongoing drilling, they said.

They also said that because the floating rigs are scarce and in high demand worldwide, they will not simply sit in the Gulf idle for six months. The rigs will go to the North Sea and West Africa, possibly preventing the U.S. from being able to resume drilling for years.

They also said the best and most advanced rigs will be the first to go, leaving the U.S. with the older and potentially less safe [rigs] operating in the nation's coastal waters.
Hooray for "change."  All this comes as Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu is pleading with the president to lift the moratorium because it's costing the Gulf region jobs and other vital resources.